It is in times of trouble that you truly learn the nature of people (or organizations). Since Black Friday I think we’ve seen the character of a lot of organizations. Stars stepped up to the plate and made a very timely refund of player monies (all things considered). Tilt has disappeared into a black hole of non-communication. UB/AP have imploded into a bunch of finger pointing, OIJ raids, and financial shenanigans.

And now we’re seeing the true character of the PPA. But before I get into that I want to make some points perfectly clear:

1. I was an early supporter of the PPA. Through my position at Full Tilt I worked with the original president of the PPA, Michael Bolcerek. I also stayed in contact with him after I left Tilt until he left the PPA.

2. I have supported and encouraged PPA membership on this site asking for and receiving no compensation. I simply felt, at the time, it was the kind of organization the players needed.

3. I sincerely believe that most of the people involved with the PPA have tried their best and deserve some credit for their efforts.

However, that doesn’t mean I agree with where the PPA has been heading over the last few years. In fact, I started withdrawing my support for the PPA when I felt the PPA no longer represented my beliefs about what an organization claiming to represent the poker playing community should be came into conflict with their actions (or inactions).

Today the PPA seems to be spiraling out of control. My only guess is they are desperately trying to justify their existence. Earlier this week board member, The Engineer (aka Rich Muny) announced on 2+2 that Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer had stepped down from the PPA board of directors. That’s fine and all and while I think Chris and Howard are fantastic ambassadors for the game I personally think it’s the right decision due to the potential conflict of interest.

But that’s where things started to take a wrong term. After a few people applauding the fact that Chris and Howard had left and shouldn’t have even been board members Muny started trying to defend the past accomplishments of the PPA by listing things that the PPA never did.

He posted:

Consider the starting point. UIGEA passed the House in 2006 as a freestanding bill 317-93. The GOP thought opposing online poker was a position that would gain them votes. They even added a plank to their platform in 2000 (it’s still there, in fact) calling for banning of the game.

Since then, PPA has succeeded introducing legislation every session, which has been our best defense against UIGEA II (which Rep. Goodlatte promised right after UIGEA passed, stating that it would finish what UIGEA started). We flooded the Hill with letters demanding the right to play. We got a substantial delay in enacting of the UIGEA regulations (which pushed Black Friday back). The efforts of poker players and of the PPA even resulted in three Congresspeople complaining to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder on Tuesday about Black Friday at the House hearing last Tuesday.

Another tangible result has been with the media. Prior to PPA, media reports on our issue were typically negative. Our opinion was rarely even included. We now get PPA quotes in pretty much all articles on the topic. We also get many that are on our side. I write a column myself, in fact, at www.biggovernment.com/rmuny.

It’s simply a hard fight. Some think it should be easier, but it’s not.

I recorded a video on my take on this two weeks ago. Perhaps it will help you see who I am and where I’m coming from. It’s not an official PPA video, so it’s not fancy by any means. Rather, it’s me sharing details of the fight with my fellow poker players: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGZ0ZqBMJGA

I politely reminded Muny that while the effort is appreciated that people have valid complaints about the lack of actual results. It’s fine to say you poured your heart and soul into something but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. And then I went through each and every claim he had made to show him how the PPA has failed to produce tangible results.

Consider the starting point. UIGEA passed the House in 2006 as a freestanding bill 317-93. The GOP thought opposing online poker was a position that would gain them votes. They even added a plank to their platform in 2000 (it’s still there, in fact) calling for banning of the game.

Their position remains unchanged. Is that a win?

We flooded the Hill with letters demanding the right to play.

And that has resulted in? Nothing.

We got a substantial delay in enacting of the UIGEA regulations (which pushed Black Friday back).

Which benefits the poker sites and various financial institutions but does very little for the players.

The efforts of poker players and of the PPA even resulted in three Congresspeople complaining to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder on Tuesday about Black Friday at the House hearing last Tuesday.

Which resulted in . . . nothing.

Another tangible result has been with the media. Prior to PPA, media reports on our issue were typically negative. Our opinion was rarely even included. We now get PPA quotes in pretty much all articles on the topic. We also get many that are on our side. I write a column myself, in fact, at www.biggovernment.com/rmuny.

I remember back in the day when the media portrayed the internet, especially ecommerce, as a dangerous place full of thieves and bad people who are going to steal your money and kidnap your children. As the internet became more mainstream the scare articles died down.

Same is happening here. You fail to mention that nearly every major news outlet covered the DOJ indictments and most did not quote the PPA but were still relatively positive about the poker playing community. Some went to great lengths to show how this has taken away a source of income. All done without the help of the PPA.

Of course the PPA has had a positive influence in the media but don’t you think you’re taking a bit too much credit here?

This is the same kind of delusions of grander they sent players in their back-slapping email telling everyone that they helped get the DOJ to cave into their demands and allow the poker sites to return player funds.

Then strangely, someone named firetheppa made a comment and Muny responded

You can’t fire the PPA unless you have a plan to replace it with something else. What is your plan?

To which firetheppa retorted:

Replace it with something else, and your logic sucks no part of removing a tumor requires its replacement.

Muny responds:

Removing a vital organ requires a replacement.

You’ve not listed any reasons to oppose PPA. Rather, you’ve come here brimming with hostility over people working hard to preserve your ability to play and to build a firm foundation for the future of the game, but you’ve not shared why you feel this way. I realize some think this should be an easy fight, but it’s absolutely not. I encourage you to read up a bit more here and elsewhere on 2+2 on the true stakes in this fight.

So the PPA thinks they are a vital organ of the online poker industry? And they think they can’t be fired from being representatives of the players? Who gave them this power?

They’re starting to believe their own press releases. Half their membership are people like me who signed up pre-UIGEA or shortly after the UIGEA but have since become disillusioned with their lack of results. What do they claim in membership, something like 1 or 2 million people? Their Black Friday call to action resulted in 65,000 emails sent to lawmakers. Do the math. And how many people play online poker, I think the PPA has thrown out about 15 million players. Doesn’t quite seem like they represent the majority at all.

Grange95 jumped in to question Muny’s claim that the PPA had delayed the enactment of the UIGEA saying

Let’s be honest, was it the PPA or the massive banking lobby which was responsible for the delay in UIGEA regulations?

Judge for yourself.

http://www.federalreserve.gov/genera…A-Comments.pdf

(And it’s not entirely clear if delaying the UIGEA regs was a net good or a Pyrrhic victory from the perspective of poker players.)

Muny responded:

Yes. That’s the letter PPA circulated. There’s a reason the signatories are all poker supporters (Wexler, Berkley, Scott, etc.).

Thanks for sharing that excellent piece of PPA work with everyone.

Wait . . . Grange95 basically pointed out that it was the ABA that stalled the UIGEA implementation but the PPA is taking full credit for getting a few lawmakers to join in?

Frequent panelist on QuadJacks CKBWoP was left shaking her head as well

The bulk of the letters in the attachment that don’t come directly from members of Congress appear to come from financial institutions – the banking lobby certainly had a massive voice when it came to opposition to the implementation of the UIGEA regulations. I’m not saying that the PPA did nothing, but I am pointing out that there was a significant backlash from financial institutions that is more readily apparent in the attached PDF.

Muny responded to her:

Yep. PPA did a lot of work to inform banks of the issues with UIGEA that could impact them.

Then it just starts to get weird. The PPA seems to be living in an alternate universe where they are responsible for every positive thing that happens and shouldn’t be blamed for anything negative that happens (even if it is their own doing like setting legal precedence which has certainly harmed the legalization efforts).

These guys have lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned.

8 thoughts to “The PPA is Spiraling Out of Control

  • Fonzi

    Bill, you are 100% correct. I stopped supporting them 2 years ago when I realized they just don’t get it. They’re using Black Friday as a way to generate more funds from poker players when in reality Black Friday had very little to do with Online Poker. It’s about Bank Fraud!

    Had this happened to a company from China selling unregulated products like pharmaceuticals in the US and they were buying up banks for processing transactions, what would out reaction be?

  • JM

    You’ve lost all credibility with me. Keep braying, jackass.

  • Steve Ruddock

    One word: Postdiction. They simply play Monday Morning Quarterback and spin whatever comes out as either a call to arms for their over-inflated membership numbers, or as a huge success by their Board of Directors.

  • Lin Sherman

    KenP: They never had any credibility with me, either, but they lost any chance of earning it when they took on D’Amato. The guy’s a mob-connected racist sleazeball who was never more than a hair away from indictment during his Congressional career. None of this was an insider secret – you could have looked it up in his Wikipedia entry when he was hired (I did).

  • JG

    I agree with your comments about the PPA’s ineffectiveness. News is disseminated, but the approach seems scatteshot. It seems like they are a day late and a dollar short, especially on the lobbying front where, sure, bills get introduced, but there doesn’t seem to be any chance of them going anywhere. Who do you think would best be suited to lead the charge (seems to me the land based casinos), and is it possible for any organization to mobilize poker players, given that this isn’t an issue that is going to decide a person’s ultimate congressional vote (the way gun rights, abortion, etc. do)?

  • Raise It

    Bravo! They never treated the membership properly once they got our money, and had early success because the cause is noble. We joined “because they were suited” which is to say professional-looking but time to fold ’em.

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  • KenP

    The only place we disagree is at the point of lost credibility. For me, that was from the git-go. It gave Stars and Tilt some access to the Washington lobbying scene. They sat down at that table and didn’t look for the fish and didn’t realize they wouldn’t find one without a mirror. It was the semi-legit child of the illegitimate sites. They financed it and the players that got sucked in by the hype were never represented. D’Amato and friends cold decked em.

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